Nigeria appeals to Ecowas to check food smuggling

Ene Okwanihe , Abuja

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development in Nigeria, Mr. Audu Ogbeh has made an appeal to the Economic Community of West African States, Ecowas, to look into the issue of food smuggling into the region from other parts of the world as some of the food imported contain harmful substances.

Mr. Audu Ogbeh made the appeal at the Food Crises Prevention Network 32nd Annual meeting holding for the first time in Nigeria.

Mr. Ogbeh said consumption of such contaminated goods or food products was one of the major causes of illnesses like cancer, liver and kidney diseases particularly among the youths of today some not even up to twenty years of age.

 “The ECOWAS treaty talks about goods and products made within the region to have access to free movement; it does not include goods imported from outside especially where some of this good are harmful to our health, our National Agency for Food Administration and Drug Control has had reason to analyze certain products not originating in West Africa, imported into west Africa and heading for Nigeria to be of extremely harmful effects on the diet of our people.”

He said no country in the West African sub-region should allow its borders or territory to be used to smuggle undesirable goods to into other ECOWAS member countries.

“We are making an appeal to all of us in the sub-region to do what we can to make sure that nothing harmful crosses our borders into another territory because the example of Ebola should warn us that an outbreak of dangerous disease in any neigbouring country can spread across to others like wild fire.”

On the issue of food shortage and nutrition in the North-East caused by the boko haram insurgency, the Minister thanked the international community, donor agencies, civil society groups and international financial institutions for their support and contributions towards alleviating the suffering of Nigerians in the North-East.

He said the activities of insurgency have made it difficult for the people in the area to farm.

“The other good news is that due to the successes recorded by the military most of the IDP’s are being resettled in their various communities… we have to make sure we provide not only food but housing, water supply, schools, hospitals, market etc.

An inter-ministerial task force on the North-East has been set up to coordinate humananitarian efforts and improves the effectiveness of collective and remedial actions. We hope that we shall continue to enjoy the support of our national, regional and international development partners in order to continue to reduce the treats of food and nutrition insecurities in these vulnerable areas,” he added.

On his part the President of the Sahel and West Africa Club (SWAC) Mr. Francois-Xavier De Donnea said the food and nutrition situation in the North-Eastern part of Nigeria brought about by the crises of the insurgency will be the major focus of this year’s meeting.

He added that another issue that needs urgent attention is migration.

Mr. Donnea said to tackle migration; the menace of youth unemployment and unstable sources of income have to be addressed as the trend of migration does not benefit anyone.

The 32nd Annual meeting of the Food Crises Prevention Network is organized by the permanent interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS) and the Sahel and West Africa Club (SWAC) with support the Regional Agency for Agriculture and Food.

And part of things to be discussed, the network has devoted a special event to encourage the search for appropriate solutions to address the food nutrition emergency in the region.